April 20, 2011
Is it Balsy? Is she for real? Past 10:00 o’clock in the evening! The eldest daughter of the late President Cory C. Aquino is inside this humble food chain. It’s in “Tropical Hut” along Brgy. Talaba in Bacoor, Cavite. These are questions that stirred inside my head on the 6th of May, 2010. From a days’ work at the union office, myself, together with Ka Gerry Rivera and Alnem Pretencio, the President and Vice-president of PALEA respectively, were on our way home but had to drop by the burger joint because we were literally stuck in the traffic.
Up close, it was really Balsy. I excitedly whispered it to my companions. Ka Gerry greeted and shook hands with her out of respect. After getting all our orders, we took our seats. We can’t believe our eyes, at a nearby table were seated Ms. Balsy and her son (I’m not really sure of his name but sure he wears big eyeglasses like his Lolo Ninoy). Adrenalin rushed inside us. We wanted to convey a simple message through her. And, we thought that it was the most opportune time. Ms. Balsy was our channel to convey our support to the presidential bid of Noynoy. It was our belief then that he was the better choice. But how? Crudely or innovatively, Ka Gerry wrote on the “Tropical Hut” tissue…
“Philippine Airlines Employees’ Association (PALEA) officers po kami.
We are for Noy!”
Gina L. Alnem P. Gerry R.
Board Director Vice-President President
A neophyte in the Union leadership, it was time for my initiation. And, so I thought. I was tasked to give the piece of paper to Ms. Balsy. So, after gathering enough strength, I approached their table. She was reading a pocketbook at that time. Her bespectacled son was enjoying his burger. Almost inaudibly, I whispered, “ Good evening ma’am, I’m Gina of PALEA. I just wanted to give this through you for Noynoy”. She seemed delighted and then she stopped reading. She looked up at me then took the tissue and said, “ Oh sweet … I’ll give this to Noynoy…. Thank you”. I saw her fold the tissue with both hands and inserted it in her pocketbook. It was the greatest feeling in my life. I was almost immobilized with disbelief that I was able to do it. Before I could walk back to my seat, the unexpected happened. Ms. Balsy, without hesitation, removed the wristwatch she was wearing and gave it to me. That priceless watch is embossed with a picture of Noynoy. I was rendered speechless. I could only mince the words, “thank you very much ma’am”. After a while, they left waving at us.
As I headed to our table where Ka Gerry and Ka Alnem were anxiously waiting, I was in euphoria. Still full of disbelief, I relayed what happened to them. They, too, were unbelieving but happy. Suddenly, we noticed Ms. Balsy’s son approaching. When he reached our table, he handed to the two officers their campaign pins and bowlers. In like manner, they had their chance to say thank you for the warmth exuded by the Aquinos.
Life is really full of surprises! Ours was really a unique one. It may be ironic at the same time. Ms. Balsy came across in our lives at a time when we needed to see hope in our struggle. Being the eldest in the Aquino siblings, we really believed that our message would be delivered to Noynoy. We hoped and prayed that Noy will become President. A knight in shining armor, sort of, maybe he sees beyond reasons. The plight of the workers, in general and PALEA members, in particular, will become the center stage of governance.
Remembering that night of May 6th, we fantasized for a country kind to workers. Indeed, it is the dream of every worker. PALEA members included. As it is, even with Benigno Simeon C. Aquino now the president, that fantasy remains elusive. A true fantasy, after all.
Finally, I surmise that the tale of the tissue is just an ordinary tissue for the Aquinos.